Let's talk about "mystery meat" FPPs... August 28, 2019 5:27 AM   Subscribe

I don't mean to pick on BiggerJ, but their recent FPP exemplifies one of my MeFi pet peeves: posts which try to be cute by withholding context, thus forcing readers to follow the links to find out what the post is about.

This happens fairly often on the Blue: FPPs where it's impossible to tell what the post is about until you've clicked on a few of the links. (Often, even that leaves me in the dark: I have to find the specific links that tie it all together and explain what the other links have in common.)

To me, this is a stunt post. More often than not, it turns out to be something that I'm not interested in – and I regret wasting the time (and bandwidth) to decipher the post. It was cute the first time I saw it – but it's just been a nuisance the other 499 times.

This FPP is especially bad, because the main links don't come until the very end – the first five links are just old FPPs. If you're going to force me to hunt through a bunch of mystery links, at least front-load the main ones. (The five links to old posts probably aren't even necessary here – that's what tags are for – but that's another issue.)

Of course, this becomes an even bigger problem when you're browsing on a mobile device.

Again – sorry, BiggerJ! You certainly aren't the first person to make this mistake, and I'm sure you're a lovely person. Your post just happened to be the one which inspired me to finally post this long-festering MetaTalk :)

Thoughts? Am I alone in thinking that context-free mystery-meat posts are best avoided? Might I even suggest that they should be discouraged as a matter of official site policy?
posted by escape from the potato planet to Etiquette/Policy at 5:27 AM (181 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

No, you're not alone, but you knew that. I can barely keep up with reading everything important on the internet as it is. Making me read unimportant stuff, so I can know that's what it is, is just too much.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:54 AM on August 28 [9 favorites]


Counterpoint: Nah.
posted by Etrigan at 5:56 AM on August 28 [16 favorites]


I fully get wanting to kind of know what you're about to open up and for people who do want to help others with this, you can easily add a little [New York Times] or [YouTube] descriptor to your post/link. It's certainly not something that is mandated (and I don't want it to be) but if you want to see that kind of thing become more popular, then as corny as it sounds, be that change you want to see.

All that being said, it's not like we have an epidemic of these types of posts. Occasionally, a little mystery is nice. It makes it feel like the Internet of old.
posted by Fizz at 5:58 AM on August 28 [20 favorites]


As per my comment in the thread, I'm 1000% pro-mystery meat. What kind of boring Blue do we want where everything is spelled out for us? Not only was BiggerJ's post introducing me (in stages) to something I've never seen, but it was also hilarious writing on its own and I'd love to see more of that on this site.

I know we've argued about this before but I don't know why this complaint wouldn't fall under the rubric of 1) not every post is for everybody (and that does include post style, there are a few that garner instant skips from me) and 2) be the poster you want to be. The idea that we would stifle creative posting styles as official site policy is absolutely wild.
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 6:00 AM on August 28 [33 favorites]


Fizz, it seems that you miss the point. Our complaint is not about the format of links in the post; it's about the lack of any clue as to the content.

Ten Dogs, this has never been an OK thing here, in my experience. It wastes the time of people like me, who are not interested in the subject.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:03 AM on August 28 [5 favorites]


Our complaint is not about the format of links in the post; it's about the lack of any clue as to the content.

I still believe that we're not exactly drowning in posts like this, so another option is to just skip over this kind of post entirely. If you're finding the framing too obtuse, well, as Jake says in the Dark Tower series:
“Go then, there are other worlds than these.”
posted by Fizz at 6:08 AM on August 28 [22 favorites]


If you're finding the framing too obtuse, well, as Jake says in the Dark Tower series:
“Go then, there are other worlds than these.”


....This kind of "go away if you don't like it" is a little abrupt, don't you think?

For the record, that particular FPP does look like it tries to add some context; I note that the first line says "The latest reanimation is out". Which...is some kind of explanation - providing that you even know what "reanimation" is in the first place. If you don't, then...another line about what you mean by that would have been helpful. (I actually saw that and thought they were referring to zombies and was really confused when I saw this.)

I agree with escape conceptually, but for this specific post it looks like there was an attempt to contextualize, anyway.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:14 AM on August 28 [9 favorites]


Apologies if that came off as rude, but I guess I'm just in agreement with Ten Cold Hot Dogs in that "not every post is for everybody".

I know that I actively avoid certain posts because I don't have interest in the subject or maybe I didn't understand the framing and I'm too lazy or tired to click through. I'm ok with a little weird and a little bit of mystery. I don't think we should mandate posting a certain way, even though I'm someone that does post a very specific way. To each their own.
posted by Fizz at 6:17 AM on August 28 [11 favorites]


To me, this is a stunt post. More often than not, it turns out to be something that I'm not interested in – and I regret wasting the time (and bandwidth) to decipher the post. It was cute the first time I saw it – but it's just been a nuisance the other 499 times.

You made the conscious choice to "waste your time" [your word choice, not my own] making this post, which I won't dispute you have a right to do. I also understand you're looking for input on whether or not others agree that the type of post you are describing is a nuisance.

Depending on my mood, I may or may not 1) click on a mystery meat link, 2) ignore an obvious mystery meat post altogether.

That being said, given that it's very mood- dependent for me, I don't think we should discourage posts like this. They can be fun for those who enjoy such posts and, like many posts on the blue, are easily skipped if one isn't interested or in the mood for it at the time.

Perhaps a good idea would be to tag these posts something like "mystery meat"*** and then those who don't like them can add the "mystery meat" tag to their "hide posts tagged _____" list.

Otherwise I am generally a fan of "Keep Mefi Weird".

***I recognize that "mystery meat" may or may not be considered an appropriate or impartial tag/label and welcome alternative ideas. I just used it here as an example.
posted by nightrecordings at 6:35 AM on August 28 [14 favorites]


Is the self-note thing in the post relevant to what's in the FPP, or was that mistakenly left in?

This part, I mean: "(reminder: add links, make it more interesting)"
posted by Grither at 6:39 AM on August 28 [5 favorites]


I am on Team Please Do Not Make Posts Like This.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:41 AM on August 28 [25 favorites]


I really liked the post, and in general I like posts that are a little weird or mysterious. There are other kinds of posts I generally don't like, but I would never dream of discouraging them, as many other MeFites seem to enjoy them. As we have heard from recent State of the Site posts, discouraging posters of any stripe is exactly the last thing we should be doing right now.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:44 AM on August 28 [8 favorites]


I don't generally click on the links in posts like this, because I am often browsing at work, and I have no idea if the result will be work-appropriate (no one here cares if I surf the internet, they might care what I look at). But I also don't think they need to be officially discouraged. People who make them are playing the odds that the mystery will be attractive and fun to more people than just spelling out the content would have been and that's fine if that's the choice they want to make.

As a compromise, they might consider spoiling the mystery below the fold, so they can have their sekrit on the front page and people can actually know what the link is about without leaving MeFi, but I don't think that should be officially policy, either. Just a possible best-of-both-worlds scenario.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:47 AM on August 28 [15 favorites]


They can be fun for those who enjoy such posts and, like many posts on the blue, are easily skipped if one isn't interested or in the mood for it at the time.

Well, no. Any post that is clear about its subject can be “easily skipped” if it’s not of interest because a reader scrolling through Metafilter can make that judgment in a split-second. A post that is deliberately coy about what it’s linking to requires extra attention from the reader — who must spend time attempting to parse the text for clues as to its subject — whether or not they end up being interested in the subject matter. Also, it can feel like the person writing the FPP is deliberately trying to coerce readers to click through out of curiosity about the post, whether it’s something that would ultimately interest them or not. Maybe that’s a winning strategy, I don’t know, but I really feel like it fails to score on readability. (I think it’s probably even less friendly to new readers, who are even less likely than regular Mefites to know what a “reanimation” is.)
posted by Mothlight at 6:58 AM on August 28 [10 favorites]


I'm sure I'm not the only one who, when faced with a mystery meat post, basically just tunes it out—at least until I have enough free time with nothing else to fill it (hah!) that I idly investigate.

That said, I definitely oppose any policy against mystery meat. KEEP METAFILTER WEIRD
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:01 AM on August 28 [38 favorites]


Mystery-meat posts 1) happen verrry rarely, and 2) are almost always easy to identify as mystery-meat posts. If clicking on links blindly without understanding the context is something that might make you feel like you've wasted time if you don't end up enjoying the content, then either A) skip mystery-meat posts entirely or B) wait a couple days to read the comments before you click the links, as you can usually glean some context from the comments.

"But the links weren't what I wanted, and my time was wasted" might be true, but the easiest fix for that is to encourage people who don't like mystery-meat posts to ignore them completely.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:02 AM on August 28 [10 favorites]


I fully get wanting to kind of know what you're about to open up and for people who do want to help others with this, you can easily add a little [New York Times] or [YouTube] descriptor to your post/link.

I've noticed that a couple of MeFites have adopted this convention – and if it works for people, then I have no big complaint with it. But it seems superfluous to me. On desktop, I can just mouse over the link, and look at the URL in the lower left of the browser window. On mobile, I can just long-press the link to get the same information.

In other words, this functionality is already built into the browser – putting "[New York Times]" in the actual text of the post achieves nothing, except to add an (admittedly minor) bit of extra clutter to the post.

Anyway, that's tangential to my original complaint. BiggerJ could've added "[Newgrounds]" and "[YouTube]" to this post, and that would've helped somewhat – but it'd still be pretty mystery-meaty.

Not everything needs to be spelled out, of course – but being deliberately obscure just makes readers jump through unnecessary hoops (or, as EmpressCallipygos puts it, to "go away if [they] don't like it").
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:03 AM on August 28 [2 favorites]


My personal solution: In these cases I read the comments before following the links.
posted by DanSachs at 7:10 AM on August 28 [18 favorites]


It is a deeply inaccessible post and bothers the heck out of me, as someone who loves animation and is also concerned about communicating with folks who have a wide variety of challenges doing so. I think it would be 100% fine, and kind of fun, if it had been exactly as it was but then a clear explanation under the cut. Kind of like how it's good form to provide an image description for folks who use screen readers or otherwise would benefit from them - and it's kind of crappy when someone's response to a request for accommodation is a solid nope.
posted by Mizu at 7:12 AM on August 28 [23 favorites]


Speaking as someone whose FFPs all follow a basically uniform boring template AND flags maybe too much, I just scrolled right on by this one. I understand the complaint though, and I've definitely been close to making a metatalk post like this one about the kind of FFP that I find irritating, so I feel you. Sometimes there are posts you find irritating, sometimes people will find your posts irritating. Sometimes you waste time looking at something you end up not caring about, sometimes you take a chance on something and end up loving it. That's Metafilter.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 7:13 AM on August 28 [1 favorite]


Here I was, productively using my precious time accomplishing grand things browsing metafilter, and then I come across this mystery meat post which completely destroyed my productivity numbers for the day!!! my time is valuable dammit!




/s
posted by some loser at 7:13 AM on August 28 [18 favorites]


Mysterious posts don't bother me. Let people post in their own style - we want more people participating these days.
posted by dazed_one at 7:15 AM on August 28 [19 favorites]


A post that is deliberately coy about what it’s linking to requires extra attention from the reader — who must spend time attempting to parse the text for clues as to its subject — whether or not they end up being interested in the subject matter.

Of course not. No one is required to determine the subject of a MetaFilter post. If it's not immediately clear, and you don't like posts that are not immediately clear, you can simply not investigate any further.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:16 AM on August 28 [12 favorites]


I used to obstreperously make Mystery Meat Label comments in posts like this. I now try to placidly ignore them - if the poster doesn't want to make the effort, neither will I. If there was a way to filter them out from the main page, I'd be all for it.
posted by zamboni at 7:17 AM on August 28 [3 favorites]


I'd like to add a retraction, because on re-read (even though I called it as such in the thread), I would disagree that this even qualifies as a mystery meat post.

Literally in the first sentence, this FPP tells us what to expect:

The latest collaborative shot-by-shot reanimation is out.

Now some of you might say, "But I don't know what a 'collaborative shot-by-shot reanimation' even is!," to which the post responds with links to past FPPs talking about the same thing. Even if those context links were missing, there are loads of posts made on the blue whose subjects/terminology are opaque to me: that's why I read this site. Because I can be pretty sure that I'll either get the context I need in the comments, or at the very least I can do further research on my own to find out - indeed, I can even skip the post entirely! Do I know what a backstop is? Who does? Should I read the latest Brexit thread and find out? I'm already too depressed as it is!!!

In addition to that there are copious and clear tags on this particular FPP, which typical mystery meat doesn't have [though point taken that this is a different situation on mobile].

So what I think people are really complaining about here is the framing, which to me reads as a clearly comic voice (ironically, now) fretting about post quality and having a (funny) meltdown. Rock Steady put more clearly than I did:

There are other kinds of posts I generally don't like, but I would never dream of discouraging them, as many other MeFites seem to enjoy them

Why the crush for conformity?
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 7:19 AM on August 28 [27 favorites]


Personally, I don't care that much. I think I am less curious than some people, in that mystery posts don't really set off a burning need in me to find out. If it's too much trouble I can easily let it go and move on without clicking.

This functions as kind of a superpower in my relationship, mainly because my husband does not possess the ability to comfortably "not know" something. If I want to mess with him all I have to do is say something on the order of "Oh, by the way... nevermind" and he will beg to know what I was going to say. If he does the same to me I'm usually completely ok.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:31 AM on August 28 [5 favorites]


I am on Team Please Do Not Make Posts Like This. Not looking for a policy, just discouraging this. Crush for conformity? c'mon, set down that axe, it's all sharpened.
posted by theora55 at 7:31 AM on August 28 [4 favorites]


> theora55: Not looking for a policy, just discouraging this. Crush for conformity? c'mon, set down that axe, it's all sharpened.

The post literally suggests "they should be discouraged as a matter of official site policy".
posted by Rock Steady at 7:33 AM on August 28 [9 favorites]


We’re not going to ever convince everyone to abide by universal FPP best practices. In light of that fact, I’d rather have mystery-meat* posts coming from the mystery-meat posters rather than no posts at all.

*and honestly, this wasn’t even mystery meat. I can count several FPP’s this month that were more opaque yet didn’t elicit a MetaTalk post.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 7:36 AM on August 28 [6 favorites]


I can count several FPP’s this month that were more opaque yet didn’t elicit a MetaTalk post.

The actual meat in the post was lost in the mess of odd parenthetical notes and mental illness schtick. Honestly, if we're going to discourage things, I have serious side-eye for stuff like

Content warning: mental illnoh god what was that sound. oh god it's right behind me no no no send help SEND HEVH")$@PObrapye3ohgwkjrnbv
posted by zamboni at 7:46 AM on August 28 [31 favorites]


As far as I'm concerned mystery meat is just a matter of opinion/taste. While I don't like them, they don't actively harm anyone as far as I know.

We have certain needs as a site around accessibility and inclusion, but going beyond that in terms of policy (or really just the complexity of the site's norms) may interfere with sustainability. For me, site sustainability is a higher priority than conserving the time I would spend deciding whether to engage with a particular FPP.
posted by Jpfed at 7:47 AM on August 28 [4 favorites]


I don't think we need to discourage people from making mystery-meat posts. There is nothing wrong with them - sure, some people don't like them, but that's not a good reason to discourage mystery-meat posts.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:59 AM on August 28 [7 favorites]


I didn't find the post all that mysterious in what it was about, just in which particular cartoon was being reanimated and what was supposed to be familiar about any of it, but that era of cartoons wasn't mine, so after clicking on the links to Newgrounds and the linked video I skipped watching and moved on since the post wasn't for me. The framing was odd, but as I didn't watch the links I don't have any real notion of why it was like that, if there was reason at all other than for the heck of it, but that's fine too.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:03 AM on August 28


Honestly, if we're going to discourage things, I have serious side-eye for stuff like

Content warning: mental illnoh...


Yeah, I have no issue with the framing of the post, except for this. "Joking" about content warnings and mental illness isn't cool. Please don't do that.
posted by Etrigan at 8:05 AM on August 28 [37 favorites]


Any post that is clear about its subject can be “easily skipped” if it’s not of interest because a reader scrolling through Metafilter can make that judgment in a split-second. A post that is deliberately coy about what it’s linking to requires extra attention from the reader — who must spend time attempting to parse the text for clues as to its subject — whether or not they end up being interested in the subject matter. Also, it can feel like the person writing the FPP is deliberately trying to coerce readers to click through out of curiosity about the post, whether it’s something that would ultimately interest them or not.

You do not have to do the extra work if you don't want to do it. When I don't want to deal with mystery meat posts, I scroll on because I know I don't have or want to give the time/energy to it. If I do have and want to give the time/energy, I do. When it comes to making a choice about whether or not to invest time figuring out an FPP, no one on this website is going to make me do that labor if I don't want to do that labor. If I approached our current attention-economy-of-a-world any other way, I would lose my mind.

In other words, you can tune it out, as CheesesofBrazil said above. Which is what I hoped to express in my earlier comment when I said scroll and move on. I think that if mystery meat posts annoy you (and I admitted earlier that sometimes, depending on my own personal mood, they may or may not sometimes annoy me, too), then the mystery meat post isn't for you. And that's fine! Not every post is going to be for everyone.

If the mystery meat post is offensive or bigoted or violates any other FPP rule, then those among us who do opt to click through will be happy to flag it.
posted by nightrecordings at 8:11 AM on August 28 [10 favorites]


You certainly aren't the first person to make this mistake, and I'm sure you're a lovely person.

I would argue this is not a mistake. I would also argue that these posts are not, at all, happening "fairly often" though I know it can feel like it when you don't like them (I have my own type of posts I hate so seriously, I do get it). I know for a lot of people they are annoying as hell and I respect people's differing opinions on them, but I think they're sort of a part of how MetaFilter works.

Content warning: mental illnoh...

Did not like this and I think fake-o trigger/content warnings should actually be something that is grounds for deletion.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:18 AM on August 28 [49 favorites]


Nthing that jokes about content warnings are punching down and, in my experience, universally associated with being a terrible person who is guaranteed to say more cruel and shitty stuff later.

This post was inaccessible to me, but that's fine, not all posts have to be for me. Nthing that I feel like you can be as weird and mysterious as you want! When you insult values I have, tho, expect it to land poorly.
posted by bagel at 8:40 AM on August 28 [7 favorites]


*shrug* I would rather there be more posts than less posts, even if some of those posts aren't for me. I think it can be very discouraging to read a post like this MeTa and feel like "Well, I can't do it right" and then just not make anymore posts. Post framing is hard, and sometimes Mystery Meat is what you can do. So, go for it! There's not one right way to make a post, and it's ok if not everyone likes how you do it.

Part of being a community that thrives is accepting harmless things that aren't really to our taste. People are going to do things differently than we would, and for the most part, that should be encouraged. Being playful is damn important.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:53 AM on August 28 [15 favorites]


Remember when people used to do that thing where every letter was a different link?
posted by Chrysostom at 8:56 AM on August 28 [11 favorites]


I think this MeTa should disabuse any notion that MeFi isn't a Country Club.

It wastes the time of people like me is as emblematic of the unwelcoming attitude that folks keep mentioning in every discussion of "why are we losing members" as anything i've read.

If we allow this post to stand, what will the rabble post next? and are they still on my lawn?

Yeah.
posted by OHenryPacey at 8:57 AM on August 28 [26 favorites]


Except that lots of people are saying, "No, that's crazy to impose your tastes on everyone else, " and there's zero sign that there would be mod backing for such a rule.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:06 AM on August 28 [1 favorite]


I think this MeTa should disabuse any notion that MeFi isn't a Country Club.

I think this same argument goes in the other direction just as easily. "Oh, you don't know what my oblique references mean? Well, too damned bad. This post is for people who already understand what's going on."
posted by jacquilynne at 9:06 AM on August 28 [18 favorites]


Remember when people used to do that thing where every letter was a different link?

Yeah, that's my pet peeve. Even every other word being a different link is to much. I find them unreadable and invariably about a topic I love dearly, like baked goods or tea.

I don't love mystery posts, but find them easily skippable, so they don't bug me much. If they seem like they might be up my alley, I look at comments to get a better sense of what's going on. So I do think the best solution is to leave clear comments for later readers.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:18 AM on August 28 [1 favorite]


The content warning feels pretty accurate to me, in that the link is a re-do of a cartoon that riffs on B-movie slasher "escaped madman" stories, and someone might reasonably want to avoid that kind of depiction? Maybe I'm overestimating how clear that was?
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:19 AM on August 28 [4 favorites]


we want more people participating these days.

[citation needed]
posted by banshee at 9:20 AM on August 28


Check out the state of the site MeTa threads for the general financial picture. More specific cites for why the site needs more activity, part 1 and part 2.
posted by Jpfed at 9:26 AM on August 28 [5 favorites]


The content warning feels pretty accurate to me, in that the link is a re-do of a cartoon that riffs on B-movie slasher "escaped madman" stories, and someone might reasonably want to avoid that kind of depiction? Maybe I'm overestimating how clear that was?

This interpretation of that content warning is new to me and seems generous. What I got out of the wording in the FPP was that the notion of wanting content warnings for wacky, crazy stuff is bad and worthy of mockery and insult.

I don't think BiggerJ poisoned the well for that sort of humor, but I do think the well is a highly toxic waste site that will require sophisticated remediation before it can be drawn on again.
posted by bagel at 9:26 AM on August 28 [11 favorites]


LobsterMitten as someone with ptsd who uses and needs content warnings it was both unclear and a shitty punching down joke and made me feel like shit.

I really, really thought we were past the point of hearing where the fact that content warnings exist head start being a father for jokes or presentations and only use one there was actually a sincere expectation of content a warrant for him.
posted by ShawnStruck at 9:27 AM on August 28 [14 favorites]


Content mornings are supposed to clearly describe what they are warning for, and this did not.
posted by ShawnStruck at 9:28 AM on August 28 [6 favorites]


The content warning should not have the challenging content within it.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:40 AM on August 28 [8 favorites]


I'm on Team I Don't Personally Enjoy Mystery Meat Posts and also Team Keep Doing Weird Shit.
posted by sugar and confetti at 9:44 AM on August 28 [5 favorites]


It wastes the time of people like me is as emblematic of the unwelcoming attitude that folks keep mentioning in every discussion of "why are we losing members" as anything i've read.

That's an ungenerous reading. My own take is closer to FPPs on Metafilter should be less deliberately obscure and more informative and understandable. I think that makes the site more immediately accessible to a wider variety of readers, with less of an insider-y feeling, but your mileage may vary.
posted by Mothlight at 9:49 AM on August 28 [12 favorites]


I hasten to add, I'm a big fan of ostensibly uninformative single-link YouTube posts and pictures of cute animals and the like because, let's face it, we all need some light entertainment. But I think they work better for everyone if there's an indication of what those videos are going to contain. That's all.
posted by Mothlight at 9:51 AM on August 28 [3 favorites]


Content warning: mental illnoh...

I don't mind skipping FPPs that don't align with my sense of humor or framing/formatting preferences but jeez, dude. There's plenty of ways to Keep MetaFilter Weird without belittling mental illness or mocking the concept of alerting people to shit that might mess with them.

Content warning: selfish behavior, tbh.
posted by rather be jorting at 9:52 AM on August 28 [17 favorites]


Having now watched the entire linked video, the animated work seemed way less troubling and likely to hurt feelings than the "content warning" in the FPP.

If I were posting this video I might add like "cw: institutionalization" to LobsterMitten's wording because those bits are closer to terrible experiences actual people have than being a horror movie monster, but even zero warnings seem like they'd have been an improvement over the FPP as posted.
posted by bagel at 9:55 AM on August 28 [6 favorites]


Maybe I'm overestimating how clear that was?

It's completely unclear to me. Looking at the post, I'm not sure...is this a sincere content warning? An ironic content warning? A reference to something from the "reanimation"? Just a random bit of the word salad that comprises the post? Something else?

My suggestion for an official policy against mystery-meat FPPs was based on the assumption that most people find these kinds of posts as annoying as I do.

(I mean, I SKREEE could start posting SKREEE the word "skreee" SKREEE after every third SKREEE word in my SKREEE FPPs, and that SKREEE would technically be SKREEE "harmless" – but it SKREEE would still be SKREEE obnoxious, and would SKREEE make the site SKREEE less usable, and SKREEE I fully expect SKREEE that the mods SKREEE would say "knock SKREEE it off, please".)

But apparently, my assumption was wrong: folks above have said that they don't mind mystery-meat posts, and some folks even like them – and this is therefore a matter of "taste", and not just an SKREEE annoying indulgence on the part of the poster.

It honestly never occurred to me that anyone would take that position, because (to quote Mothlight):

My own take is [that] Metafilter should be less deliberately obscure and more informative and understandable.

But apparently a significant number of people disagree, so far be it from me to propose banning mystery-meat posts if people find value in them. I think you're weird, but I will quietly tolerate your eccentricity :)

P.S. Jesus Christ, y'all. "Crush for conformity", "unwelcoming attitude", "country clubs"? Perspective, please. I said "yo, I think it might be a bad thing when FPPs are unintelligible", and people are acting like I've proposed re-education camps. I ain't mad, but it sure seems like some of y'all are.

P.P.S. SKREEE

posted by escape from the potato planet at 10:02 AM on August 28 [15 favorites]


Am I alone in thinking that context-free mystery-meat posts are best avoided? Might I even suggest that they should be discouraged as a matter of official site policy?

/skreee
posted by some loser at 10:13 AM on August 28 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm overestimating how clear that was?

It might be clear after the fact, but a content warning is supposed to let people know what they might find inside so that they can decide whether to click on a link or read further. This is, literally, their only purpose. I can understand why people might not want to use them. I appreciate when people use them for stuff like gratuitous violence and that sort of thing. I can see why a lot of other people would appreciate them for different things.

A content warning is metadata, basically, it's not part of a post, it's extra information about the post. When people try to get jokey with a content or trigger warning--we see this a LOT with trigger warnings on the larger internet and it's shitty--it can read as making fun of the idea of content warnings. The later one ("hey there might be a bare butt") is a jokey way of saying mildly nsfw.

So if you're someone who would like a content warning regarding mental illness in the posts you decide to read and/or click through, having someone do what is basically a parody of some kinds of mental illness in the content warning itself can read as less than charitable to those people.

I know you're all trying your best and I don't mean this as any sort of accusation, just explaining at length why i think "It's okay because the content warning is part of the post, in the style of the post" may not be a good metric to use about whether it's okay to riff on the idea of content warnings. I know MeFi contains multitudes and I'm not in a snit over this, just doing an explainer about metadata because, hey, how often do I get to do that?
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 10:14 AM on August 28 [33 favorites]


Does Polly want a cracker?
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:14 AM on August 28


To be clear, my personal feeling about the question in this MeTa is, I definitely prefer posts that give me a sense of what they're about, and I rarely click a mystery meat link. But this is one of those perennial Mefi "people like different things" areas where I know other people do really enjoy mystery meat posts.

To the "content warning," for me was the only part of the post that did convey some information about what I would see if I clicked a link, and it let me know that this was probably not my cup of tea, so I felt like it was a successful heads-up in that way. So maybe I'm perceiving it as more helpful than it was. I do take the point about its in a way containing the kind of content it's warning about.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:21 AM on August 28 [2 favorites]


Nthing that jokes about content warnings are punching down and, in my experience, universally associated with being a terrible person who is guaranteed to say more cruel and shitty stuff later.

I don't think this counts as "Nthing" -- the previous comments about not abusing content warnings focus on impact without making unkind and unnecessary imputations about the original poster.
posted by aws17576 at 10:47 AM on August 28 [9 favorites]


I completely agree with escape from the potato planet on this one. Personally, I got like two sentences into that post and then immediately skipped over it. There are some cases where the mystery framing is integral to the thing the post is about, but that post (now that I've peeked at the comments to discover WTF it was even about) was definitely not one of them.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:53 AM on August 28 [6 favorites]


I reacted much the same as LobsterMitten, I thought the way the post was written was fit to the type of content it held, so didn't think of it as a problem. I can, however, totally respect that some felt it was belittling in some way, so no argument from me there.

I would say though that while content warnings and trigger warnings do have some overlap, they aren't the same. Trigger warnings reference the idea that some will find the context difficult to watch for how the context may relate to some area of anxiety in their lives, which directly links the person to the warning in a way content warnings do not do by necessity.

Posting NSFW is a content warning, but it is signalling the content contains material that may not be suitable for the workplace or other areas where the viewer might not want the material played. It doesn't carry the same correlation between content and viewer as a trigger warning does. It identifies the content alone. The difference between identifying content that may cause a traumatic reaction for people and that which people might not wish to play in some circumstances, or which might just be irksome or otherwise fall within a more typical range of emotional response is a distinction worth noting.

None of that is to say the specific post referenced in the thread was okay in how it handled it, given the noted objections, but that saying content and trigger warnings are the same feels a bit off to me as it elides some important differences between them.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:58 AM on August 28 [2 favorites]


Mystery meat is an evergreen concern. Unless it gets crazy common probably best to just skip those sorts of posts if they bother you.

Also, Wow the tone of Metatalk posts sure has shifted in the last 15 years.
posted by Mitheral at 11:02 AM on August 28 [2 favorites]


I've noticed that a couple of MeFites have adopted this convention – and if it works for people, then I have no big complaint with it. But it seems superfluous to me.

It's really not superfluous. I primarily browse Mefi on mobile these days (wow, that's weird to say) and the mobile site is....not great. One of the ways in which the mobile site is not great is that it can be really hard to long-tap the correct link rather than the pile of links surrounding it (username, date stamp, favorite, flag, add to activity, hamburger menu, search box, profile, etc.). The more that folks label their links, the less likely I am to accidentally click a YouTube link on my phone in the middle of a crowded train. That's not counting the days when I have a migraine and the sight and sound of a YouTube video are all I need to get really ill--and I'm not epileptic.

So if you are so moved, please label your links. There are really good reasons to do so.

Also, keep MetaFilter weird, posting stuff, and using content warnings correctly.
posted by librarylis at 11:03 AM on August 28 [12 favorites]


(I mean, I SKREEE could start posting SKREEE the word "skreee" SKREEE after every third SKREEE word in my SKREEE FPPs, and that SKREEE would technically be SKREEE "harmless" – but it SKREEE would still be SKREEE obnoxious, and would SKREEE make the site SKREEE less usable, and SKREEE I fully expect SKREEE that the mods SKREEE would say "knock SKREEE it off, please".)

"SKREE" is awfully close to "REEEEEEE", which is related to the "autistic screeching" meme. It's ableist and insulting, and I'm disappointed to see it here.
posted by Lexica at 11:03 AM on August 28 [6 favorites]


Oh, and I want to thank escape from the potato planet for their reaction to the thread. I appreciate the response in stating their position but being understanding of those who disagree. I think that is a good example of constructive disagreement.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:04 AM on August 28 [3 favorites]


A discussion about content warnings, while absolutely important, feels like it's getting away from what I believe was the main complaint, which was an assertion that it wasn't clear what in the bleeding heck the post was about in the first place (and escape from the potato planet says it's not even the worst such offender, merely the most recent example of such a thing).

And I agree with escape, that this particular post isn't as "mystery" a mystery meat, because it at least looked like the OP tried to explain something, with the following phrases:

"The latest collaborative reanimation is out." (it looks like it now says "shot-by-shot reanimation", but I do not recall that being there when this was first posted.)
"A warning regarding content: I regret to inform you that there is, quite early on, a bare bottom. And a rather familiar one at that."

However, the problem I have when I read that is that I didn't know what in the hey a "collaborative reanimation" is; even more confusingly, I've just been reading a book involving zombies where they're called "reanimates", so I thought this had something to do with zombies and was totally lost. And I clicked on the link for the "familiar bare bottom" and didn't recognize anything I was looking at. So...those explanations only worked if I was the target audience and had had that prior knowledge. Which I didn't. But maybe it's something I want to learn about ? Maybe not? I don't know, because I don't know what it's talking about.

The first comment, however is an ideal explanation -

"120+ Animators come together to re-animate a classic Courage the Cowardly Dog Episode; Freaky Fred."

That tells me much more about the post and gives me a lot more to go on in terms of "do I click this and check it out or not?"

But - the OP did try to explain, clearly. Maybe it wasn't the best explanation, but they did try. And that shows good intent, to my mind.

So maybe this is all a cautionary tale or a tip that if you're posting about something kind of specific, it may be wise to add a line or two of "in case you don't know what X is...." explanation, to give people the best possible chance of deciding "do I check this out or not?"

I never heard of Courage the Cowardly Dog either, so I didn't. But at least I know what the post even is about now.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:36 AM on August 28 [8 favorites]


I had a hard time cognitively processing what the FPP text was saying and it did take me five minutes to figure out which link was the main one (I assumed it was the final youtube link based on past experience but then it wasn't the episode being talked about? and i thought the link was broken maybe?). Those are my usual problems with mystery meat posts is not even being able to understand them. And I didn't read the joke part of the cw as a mocking one, it conveyed that there was horror content, but I wouldn't have understood what was meant by warning for just "mental illness." Warning, ableist content? Or just warning, a mentally ill person is here?

But, like, 5% less obliqueness and maybe some line breaks to help my brain out and this would've been a post I really enjoyed. Mystery is fun for me, confusion not so much.
posted by gaybobbie at 12:52 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]


That's an ungenerous reading

Mothlight, I think what's ungenerous here is jumping on this post as if it were a trend, especially in light of recent loooooong discussions on how intimidating some folks find the posting process to be. It's one post. When was the last mystery meat post? Is there one a day? One a week? I can't believe the number of commenters who feel put upon by a post that doesn't suit their tastes. Lots of posts don't suit my taste and I simply skip them, or flag and move on, I don't open a freakin' MeTa after 5 comments, especially when the very first comment was a disambiguation. There have been 13 FPP's since it was posted, so it doesn't seemed to have ruined the site. but of course, others' mileage may vary.
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:56 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


I don't feel like "make sure people can tell what your post is about" is all that onerous, actually?
posted by tobascodagama at 1:01 PM on August 28 [14 favorites]


There has to be some kind of irony in the fact that folks in this thread are using “mystery meat” - a term I don’t know and have no context for - to describe a FPP that they feel is confusing.

(Also: I totally understand if a particular post isn’t your thing/you hated the framing/the formatting could have been better - but if, as a site, there is a genuine interest in seeing more FPPs, just know that it’s threads like these that keep folks like me far, far away from the front page.)
posted by WaspEnterprises at 1:10 PM on August 28 [5 favorites]


Mystery Meat in pop culture. As it applies to Metafilter from the Wiki: A post where there is no indication where the links go, and the reader is expected to click blindly.
posted by Mitheral at 1:27 PM on August 28


Or to put it another way, posts which try to be cute by withholding context, thus forcing readers to follow the links to find out what the post is about.
posted by zamboni at 1:49 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]


My main concern is that some people do have limits on bandwidth usage; and without descriptive text it excludes them when it may be something they would enjoy or find useful.

It’s not very mindful.
posted by terrapin at 2:02 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


I scanned that FPP above-the-fold, thought "Huh?" and moved on. This post wasn't for me, but that's okay; not every post is. In fact maybe not even most posts are. I wouldn't want to see the front page taken over with these sorts of posts, but they really aren't that common, and as some people enjoy them, I'm glad that they're part of the MetaFilter experience.

Personally I've started trying to annotate my links a bit, because it seems to me a small act of kindness to let people know if they're about to click a link to, e.g., NY Times where they might use up a free article. I'd prefer to see more of that, since a sense of the source/content of a link can be valuable to some people for a variety of reasons, ranging from their browsing device to their network connection to their content sensitivity, none of which I'm prepared to evaluate but which I can let them evaluate with an extra handful of words like "[NYTimes; article is about abuse]" or similar. But I don't think this should be site policy.
posted by biogeo at 2:03 PM on August 28 [6 favorites]


I came to metatalk specifically after seeing that post because I wondered if it had confused anyone else. I'm sorry, but it was written in such a purposefully-confusing way while also assuming familiarity with the subject matter that, again, it did not mention...

A short, one-sentence explanation of what it was below the fold (thanks, first commenter!) would have taken it from what I consider to be a not-great post to one I could have at least parsed and decided if I wanted to click the links, or not.
posted by destructive cactus at 2:23 PM on August 28 [6 favorites]


Mothlight, I think what's ungenerous here is jumping on this post as if it were a trend, especially in light of recent loooooong discussions on how intimidating some folks find the posting process to be.

You're right — it's one post and it's not going to materially impact people's enjoyment or non-enjoyment of Metafilter on a large scale, and I apologize if I seemed hectoring or unkind about it. At the end of the day I'd rather deal with the mystery meat than frighten anyone away from contributing.

We're on the same side here; we all want a better Metafilter.
posted by Mothlight at 2:25 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


Folks – if you're determined to get upset about something in this MetaTalk thread, none of us can stop you. But, man – some of you seem really determined to get upset about something.

Maybe ease up on the mudslinging and the willfully ungenerous readings of other MeFites' comments?

Back to the issue at hand: It sounds like the mods have spoken. For better or worse, the occasional mystery-meat FPP is part of MeFi culture. This isn't something the mods are interested in taking a stance on – and, in fact, they prefer to treat it as a matter of stylistic taste.

Issue settled!
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:32 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


Yes, obviously one has the option of just skipping the post. But if I was posting, I would want everybody who was interested in the subject to not feel like skipping it.

I guess what I'm saying is, no, there shouldn't be a rule against this kind of post, but people who post like this should be made aware that they're alienating some of the people they probably didn't want to alienate.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:41 PM on August 28 [13 favorites]


Note to self: shelve the new FPP for now. Farewell to
D.I.Y.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 3:52 PM on August 28 [7 favorites]


The trouble with following the links is, will they make noise or autoplay a video? I can't be having that, for reasons I tire of explaining. The main link left no clue about what the post was even trying to be about: I think I last went to newgrounds in 2003 or so when it was a site to post terrible flash videos. I really thought this was an entirely spam post and was expecting the banhammer to have wiped it away promptly. The title I thought might've been something to do with the new horror remake of the Banana Splits Show transcribed by someone with even less sense of timing than I have.
posted by scruss at 4:17 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]


threads like these are such a huge bummer. why do people feel the need to dissect other posters behavior instead of just saying "well, this isn't for me" and moving on? what does this accomplish other than making the original poster feel shitty? i think generally if we codified the idea that not every post is going to work for every person, and that's okay, we would be a much healthier community and would avoid falling into these same repetitive struggle sessions.
posted by JimBennett at 5:02 PM on August 28 [19 favorites]


instead of just saying "well, this isn't for me" and moving on?

because it took effort to work out if the post wasn't for me, and that effort was wasted
posted by scruss at 5:40 PM on August 28 [6 favorites]


The trouble with following the links is, will they make noise or autoplay a video? I can't be having that

It might be worth checking the user manual to see if your computer’s volume is adjustable.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:40 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


the idea that a moment or two of wasted effort is worth sacrificing other peoples self expression is trash, sorry.
posted by JimBennett at 5:41 PM on August 28 [14 favorites]


And regardless, it’s been very well established that “is this link appropriate for a particular MeFite’s workplace” is only a compelling concern for that MeFite, not the site as a whole.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 5:43 PM on August 28


A post like the one in question is all but inscrutable to someone like me with autism. I am in favor of clearer posts so that neurodivergent people on metafilter are better able to be a members of this community- I’m sorry Mr.Bennett if that makes me trash in your eyes.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 5:44 PM on August 28 [11 favorites]


i mean i understand that there are indeed legitimate reasons to not like this kind of post, including yours, but that doesn't mean this kind of post shouldn't exist. i'm specifically referring to the people in this thread (i count at least three) who are saying that their time is too valuable to waste figuring something like this out, which implies a fundamentally different relationship to how i approach this website that i just can't quite wrap my head around. afaik that is not the same complaint you're making, so i wasn't trying to lump you in and i'm sorry my statement didn't make that clear.
posted by JimBennett at 5:49 PM on August 28 [6 favorites]


I find mystery meat posts annoying but this isn't my personal blog and I feel no compulsion to read every post on the site and no anxiety about having skipped any post. That's not "if you don't like it, leave" as someone tried to bizarrely characterize above.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 6:43 PM on August 28 [8 favorites]


The first comment was left 42 minutes after the post was made, and it provides a reasonable amount of context for the post in a straightforward posting style. Unless someone encountered the post in the first 42 minutes it was up, there was enough context to understand the post in the first comment, and no time at all had to be wasted to determine whether the post was one you would enjoy.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:46 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]


I am strongly in favor of Keeping Metafilter Weird, even if that means some people are inconvenienced. I can't speak for anyone else, but when I come to Metafilter it is with the understanding that a lot of the links posted are not going to be for me. I routinely pass over posts that don't immediately catch my attention. This does not seem to be an improper way to use Metafilter. Sometimes I notice a post that I had dismissed earlier and engage with it. Sometimes I don't. To me, this is not a problem that needs solving.

As it happens, the post in this MeTa is highly relevant to my interests, but I totally missed it until now, quite possibly due to the way it was written. Again, this isn't a problem. It's OK if I don't catch every interesting thing that shows up on Metafilter. I'll probably see it sooner or later. If this isn't the way you engage with Metafilter, I recommend it. It's very relaxing.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:52 PM on August 28 [8 favorites]


I’m ok with mystery meat posts. I’m ok with wasting 5 minutes of my time on something that turns out to be not interesting to me—that’s life. Like the way I’ll check out a new shop or an open house that looks interesting and then it turns out to be a wash. Not everything has to be optimized. And if it’s a day where I don’t have 10, 15, 20 minutes to spare poking around online, or if I’m in a place where I shouldn’t risk it by clicking on mystery meat links that could be autoplay video, or whatever, then I should be wise and not go clicking on mystery meat.
posted by sallybrown at 7:04 PM on August 28 [6 favorites]


the idea that a moment or two of wasted effort is worth sacrificing other peoples self expression is trash, sorry.

Please don't disparage my differing opinion as "trash", nor mischaracterize it as muffling someone's "self-expression".

Deliberately making it difficult to understand a post is the opposite of self-expression – unless what you're trying to express is "I have no respect for my reader's time".

I'm happy to skip posts that "aren't for me". That's why I asked for people to make posts comprehensible, so that it's easier for me to determine whether a post is for me or not. Others have already made this point abundantly in this thread.

As tobascodagama said:

I don't feel like "make sure people can tell what your post is about" is all that onerous, actually?

Like, seriously, people. This isn't an unreasonable suggestion. This is a basic expectation of human communication. Literally all that us anti-mystery-meat people are saying is "please don't post incomprehensible gibberish".

If what you're hearing is "NO ONE ON METAFILTER IS ALLOWED TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES, AND MUST OBEY THE STRICT DICTATES OF THE THOUGHT POLICE AT ALL TIMES", then you are willfully misconstruing us (and being kind of a jerk).

We recognize all kinds of limitations on the kind of expression that's acceptable in an FPP – limitations that exist as both official site policies, and as implicit community norms. We don't allow self-links or astroturfing. We don't allow stuff that's framed in provocative, axe-grindy way. We don't allow posts that are too thin to support substantive discussion. And so on. To single out this one proposed limitation – which, again, is simply "don't post incomprehensible gibberish" – and characterize it as "sacrificing self-expression", is preposterous.

MetaFilter FPPs aren't for freeform hypertext poetry. They're for expression within certain boundaries. They're for saying "here are some links I found, and here's some context to explain why you might want to click on them".

A post which fails to satisfy that basic criterion is a bad post. I can't believe we're even debating that. If you want a place where you can "express" yourself by being unnecessarily confusing and opaque, then get your own blog.

(I really do feel bad for BiggerJ, because it's gotten absurdly fighty in here – and I, for one, am certainly not angry with BiggerJ. I'm not even mildly annoyed with BiggerJ.)
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:07 PM on August 28 [15 favorites]


a lot of the links posted are not going to be for me

Please stop saying this. Literally no one disagrees with this point.

No one is complaining that FPPs exist which don't interest them. We are complaining because FPPs exist which aren't intelligible. These are two completely different and unrelated things.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:12 PM on August 28 [14 favorites]


Some people like the puzzling aspect of a mystery meat post, though (and I do think that can be self-expression too). I think there’s room for everyone to be happy here if people who dislike their time being wasted could accept an attitude of “I’ll scroll past posts that seem time-waste-y or hard to comprehend at first glance.” I don’t mind at all wasting my time puzzling out a weird post, in fact I enjoy it, sometimes more so than I do the actual link.

There’s a difference to me between something that is gibberish and something that is crafted to be weird and confusing (and is thus not clear) but leads somewhere.
posted by sallybrown at 7:15 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]


Count me as another person who saw the way this was written and decided it wasn't for me only to later find out in this thread that the content is something I'm actually really interested in. People can write their posts however they like but they should be aware that this sort of stuff has the effect of essentially hiding interesting content from interested people.
posted by Television Name at 7:28 PM on August 28 [16 favorites]


If what you're hearing is "NO ONE ON METAFILTER IS ALLOWED TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES, AND MUST OBEY THE STRICT DICTATES OF THE THOUGHT POLICE AT ALL TIMES", then you are willfully misconstruing us (and being kind of a jerk).

first of all, that's not what i was saying, which you're aware, and this is a deliberate misconstruction of what i was saying that i don't appreciate. but i am sorry about my post. when i see people say "this post is bad because my time was wasted," it implies, to me, that their time is more valuable than the time of the person who constructed the post, and that their time is more valuable than the enjoyment people who liked the post got out of it. i don't think that's the intention but that's how that framing comes across. it reads to me as a fundamentally selfish way to use this website. i'm sure that's not the intention at all, and calling that attitude "trash" was the wrong choice when i could have been more nuanced.

Deliberately making it difficult to understand a post is the opposite of self-expression – unless what you're trying to express is "I have no respect for my reader's time".

there is nothing in the rules, afaik, that requires you to respect anyone else's time when formulating an FPP. if you read a post and feel like it is wasting your time, the solution is not to propose a rule change, but to move on to the next post. if enough people find the post incomprehensible, it will generate no discussion. that's also fine.

I'm happy to skip posts that "aren't for me". That's why I asked for people to make posts comprehensible

if you find the post incomprehensible, perhaps that's a sign that it is not a post for you.

Literally all that us anti-mystery-meat people are saying is "please don't post incomprehensible gibberish".

considering the first comment was a summary of what the links contained, the post in question was clearly not gibberish.

We don't allow posts that are too thin to support substantive discussion.

this unspoken rule has been under serious question in the last few months, FWIW.

A post which fails to satisfy that basic criterion is a bad post. I can't believe we're even debating that.

this to me is why this thread bothered me. i don't know why you can't just say that this is a bad post for you. if you don't like a post, that's fine. it doesn't mean there needs to be a rule change. it doesn't merit a struggle session. i think it's a great post, minus the bad taste content warning joke. it took me a few minutes to parse what it was about, but when i did i was delighted.

Some people like the puzzling aspect of a mystery meat post, though (and I do think that can be self-expression too). I think there’s room for everyone to be happy here if people who dislike their time being wasted could accept an attitude of “I’ll scroll past posts that seem time-waste-y or hard to comprehend at first glance.” I don’t mind at all wasting my time puzzling out a weird post, in fact I enjoy it, sometimes more so than I do the actual link.

QFT and again, i think we would be a healthier community if we accepted this as the norm. different people are going to respond to different things. there have been so many acrimonious struggle sessions about things that could have just been resolved immediately if everyone involved agreed it was fine and maybe even encouraged sometimes to just scroll past a post and never think about it again.
posted by JimBennett at 7:41 PM on August 28 [15 favorites]


Honestly, the shitty attitudes of the people defending mystery meat in this thread should be all the evidence required that they're bad for the site. What the hell is wrong with you people?
posted by tobascodagama at 8:25 PM on August 28 [5 favorites]


Some people like the puzzling aspect of a mystery meat post, though (and I do think that can be self-expression too). I think there’s room for everyone to be happy here if people who dislike their time being wasted could accept an attitude of “I’ll scroll past posts that seem time-waste-y or hard to comprehend at first glance.” I don’t mind at all wasting my time puzzling out a weird post, in fact I enjoy it, sometimes more so than I do the actual link.

But would that enjoyment be ruined by a one-sentence summary under the fold?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:28 PM on August 28 [10 favorites]


Honestly, the shitty attitudes of the people defending mystery meat in this thread should be all the evidence required that they're bad for the site. What the hell is wrong with you people?

i think everyone is reading shitty attitudes into what is actually just good faith disagreement, on both sides of this discussion. not sure what to do about that and i'm sorry for contributing to it. i don't think the tone in this thread has anything at all to do with the topic at hand though. it just feels like it's harder and harder to have any discussion about this site without it devolving into grar.

But would that enjoyment be ruined by a one-sentence summary under the fold?

not necessarily but i also don't think a summary should be compulsory, and in this case the first comment posted acted as a summary anyway.
posted by JimBennett at 8:33 PM on August 28 [7 favorites]


In a time when this site is desperate for more content and greater diversity, it seems unwise to limit any mode of expression that isn't actively harmful to people here. It does not diminish this site if people occasionally carve out a space to play around in. A story about a few affluent retirees being sort of miffed about a dog park getting 50+ gleeful comments is as inscrutable to me as what any of you consider "incomprehensible gibberish".
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 9:05 PM on August 28 [8 favorites]


Join me on my one-person tag team!: "thetitleisjustthesubject"
posted by sylvanshine at 9:17 PM on August 28


I think universal design is a relevant principle in communicating with wide, diverse audiences, e.g. when teaching a class. Metafilter is far from being a classroom, yet along the same lines, members have asked very plainly for more consideration of hand pain, screen readers, and neurodivergent audiences. My read of those requests is mystery meat posts are not great examples of universal design. I'm not suggesting they should be forbidden or that Metafilter shouldn't sometimes be weird. But I think pushback on them is OK too, and it's worth thinking about the requests people have made here.
posted by Wobbuffet at 9:20 PM on August 28 [17 favorites]


But would that enjoyment be ruined by a one-sentence summary under the fold?
------
not necessarily but i also don't think a summary should be compulsory


I don't think it should be compulsory, either. And I didn't suggest that.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:18 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]


Just a general note as far as policy: we don't expect all posts to conform to any particular stylesheet, and folks will sometimes choose to format a post in a way that is less overtly descriptive or communicative than the median post. That's okay as a style choice, so long as it doesn't become a predominant format for posts, which in 20 years it has never remotely approached; we'll keep an eye on it if there's ever any sudden durable trend toward that.

It's also okay to not particularly like that style choice; in general, skipping a post you don't care for the formatting or content of is the standard mode, and nobody needs to be talked out of dispreferring a given style of posting any more than anyone needs to be talked out of liking a given idiosyncratic style of posting when done in reasonable moderation. MeFi has a big tent on this and no house style; a heterogeneous userbase and varied interests and preferences means not everything will appeal to everyone and that's pretty much fine.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:02 PM on August 28 [10 favorites]


My summary take away from the discussion about the post is that the main issue is people were confused by what the post was about, but that confusion largely came from being unfamiliar with the pop culture reference the framing of the post relied on rather than the poster intentionally creating "mystery meat".

The framing quotes the show being reanimated and mentions that the link is a reamination, but doesn't specify to what, as the working assumption seems to be that the lines reworked to frame the post would tell people it is a Courage the Cowardly Dog episode. That many evidently are not familiar with that cartoon led to the confusion along with the post itself having organized the links in a way that didn't serve to highlight well which link was the main one to be looked at.

A lot of the discussion here isn't really all that germane to the post itself exactly for that confusion as the poster did supply context, it just wasn't understood. If the post had been, say, about Steamed Hams, there likely wouldn't have been as much confusion for that being a more common Metafilter reference, but one which nonetheless could still confuse anyone not "in the know" about its relative commonality here.

Assuming a pop reference will be understood by everyone is always going to miss the mark a bit since, as much as there is some strong like mindedness to the site, not everyone watches or listens to the same things and the most seemingly well known references will not be understood by all. That's fine, trying to explain everything can't be done and some posts just aren't going to make sense to some people. But being aware of that and making sure a post framing is communicating what you want it to say is also a good thing so it doesn't create unnecessary confusion and people can better appreciate the links for what they are, since that is the point to them.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:22 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]


On a more personal note, I do encourage people to try and keep a more good faith attitude about the site and the other posters. We are all trying to bring something good and enjoyable to the site, but sometimes might miss out on some aspect of what we post that others might take in ways we didn't consider or intend. Posts are moderated and the moderation here is top notch, so it isn't likely any post is going to contain something truly out of line other than in really rare cases and where you stumble upon the links before the mods have a chance to remove them.

It sometimes feels like we spend too much time searching for the worst case scenarios rather than trying to improve the site as if we've given up expecting anything good anymore. Metafilter isn't perfect by any means, but it's lasted and has maintained a community by always striving to do the right thing for everyone, even as we know there are always going to be conflicts about what that means as our wants and expectations are informed by different histories.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:43 PM on August 28 [6 favorites]


JimBennett: considering the first comment was a summary of what the links contained, the post in question was clearly not gibberish.

I disagree with that conclusion. Considering the first commenter felt that it was a good idea to offer that summary, it's quite possible to consider the post itself to be vague to the point of gibberish.

Mind you, I'm not saying that is good or bad. I don't have a strong opinion on that. But I would certainly not have clicked on any of the links if it weren't for that first comment. Now I'm glad I did, because I enjoyed the content. So, thank you, first commenter.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:41 AM on August 29 [7 favorites]


I skip out *fast* on any post that doesn't give me solid information as to what is up, that wants me to "have fun" chasing down whatever it is the post might be. I am not at all interested in playing those games, and don't.

Anyone else remember when a person would put in a word, maybe "potato" and each letter was a link to some jive or other, adding up to (???) something or other. After coming across that once I learned to instantly "Nope." out of any thread that featured that sort of "fun" time.

I don't come here to play games.
posted by dancestoblue at 1:39 AM on August 29 [3 favorites]


The first comment was left 42 minutes after the post was made, and it provides a reasonable amount of context for the post in a straightforward posting style. Unless someone encountered the post in the first 42 minutes it was up, there was enough context to understand the post in the first comment, and no time at all had to be wasted to determine whether the post was one you would enjoy.
...
considering the first comment was a summary of what the links contained, the post in question was clearly not gibberish.


For what it's worth, I posted the first comment because I did consider the original post to be vague to the point of gibberish, and I wanted to help others on the site with an explanation so they wouldn't be as confused as I was.

(I knew what a reanimation was but everything else was nonsensical to me.)

For the record, I'm on Team Mystery Meat is Just Fine But I Will Leave a Comment That Spoils It Whenever Possible.
posted by mmoncur at 4:23 AM on August 29 [10 favorites]


Metafilter: I don't come here to play games
posted by Grither at 5:35 AM on August 29 [7 favorites]


Honestly, the shitty attitudes of the people defending mystery meat in this thread should be all the evidence required that they're bad for the site. What the hell is wrong with you people?

Nothing's wrong with people defending context-free posts. Nothing is wrong with the attitudes of people who are defending context-free posts. They're not bad for the site.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:10 AM on August 29 [11 favorites]


Now I want to see a themed mystery meat month of posts. Sausage September? Offal October?
posted by Diskeater at 7:15 AM on August 29 [2 favorites]


Believing that your time is being wasted --- yours, specifically --- because a post made by a volunteer, for free, does not make sense to you, is very entitled! People post for fun. They don't work for you.

A post like the one in question is all but inscrutable to someone like me with autism. I am in favor of clearer posts so that neurodivergent people on metafilter are better able to be a members of this community- I’m sorry Mr.Bennett if that makes me trash in your eyes.

I do not identify with this comment. I identify much more with the person making the "inscrutable" post.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 7:25 AM on August 29 [24 favorites]


Now I want to see a themed mystery meat month of posts. Sausage September? Offal October?

Passive Aggressive November?
posted by zamboni at 7:44 AM on August 29 [4 favorites]


Nothing is wrong with the attitudes of people who are defending context-free posts.

I've frankly been quite shocked at the level of vitriol in this thread coming from the folks taking that position. I've not seen this much raw contempt on MeFi outside of s U.S. politics megathread.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:32 AM on August 29 [3 favorites]


"How do you like your mystery meat?"

[contemptuously] "Raw!"
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 8:38 AM on August 29 [3 favorites]


your time is being wasted

metafilter is srs bzns
posted by banshee at 8:40 AM on August 29 [3 favorites]


Mods - is there an actual reason to leave this thread open to new comments? Because it doesn't seem like there's anything to be gained from a descent into meanness over this. Y'all have expressed the official policy that there's no policy against this, and there only seems to be progress towards more upset and hurt feelings. Not every MeTa needs to remain open for people to be fighty in. Having space for people to be snarky and mean isn't really a net positive for the sight. it just makes for bad interactions that make people take breaks.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:42 AM on August 29 [4 favorites]


We don't usually close MetaTalks, period, and we tend to get some predictable pushback when we do. That said, I'mma be camping out on this one for a while and if it looks like people are just flatly unable to assume good faith, then yeah, there's no point in letting everyone make new enemies.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:44 AM on August 29 [2 favorites]


Speaking as someone with no particular investment in the "mystery meat" idea (as I stated above, I don't personally like them but I think Metafilter is a place to let your freak flag fly), I think there's been quite a bit of uncalled-for vitriol from both anti- and pro-mystery-meat commenters here. I wish I could say I was shocked at this, but I'm not. I think everyone on Metafilter is a little bit on tenterhooks right now, and there's generally very little willingness to extend the presumption of good faith towards people with differing viewpoints. I think some people are reading others' disagreements more negatively as a result of this, and respond by ramping up the vitriol, which leads to a vicious cycle.

I hope we can all take a breath and think about steps we can take to help each other wind down the vitriol when it starts to get out of hand like this. If we can't even discuss something as low-stakes as whether certain styles of posts are a good idea for the front page, we're really screwed when it comes to the things that really matter.
posted by biogeo at 8:55 AM on August 29 [16 favorites]


I'm a fan of the Calm Metafilter plugin for Chrome and Firefox. A fair number of times I'll type up some reflexive grar and then the plugin gets me to re-evaluate what impact I really want to have on the discussion.
posted by Jpfed at 9:03 AM on August 29 [3 favorites]


What Wobbuffet said above seems pretty darn reasonable:

My read of those requests is mystery meat posts are not great examples of universal design. I'm not suggesting they should be forbidden or that Metafilter shouldn't sometimes be weird. But I think pushback on them is OK too, and it's worth thinking about the requests people have made here.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:09 AM on August 29 [2 favorites]


Unless someone encountered the post in the first 42 minutes it was up, there was enough context to understand the post in the first comment, and no time at all had to be wasted to determine whether the post was one you would enjoy.

However, if the OP had thought to include a single line akin to that first comment in the body of their post, then there wouldn't have been that 42-minute window when people were all confused in the first place. Might that not have better served the OP's intent, which (i presume) is to attract as many readers as possible?

I think a lot of people are reading "helpful suggestions" as "complaints". In my own case, personally, the comments I'm making in this post are helpful suggestions. You know? I'm not saying "how dare you not make this post clear', it's more like "hey, I was totally confused and I probably wasn't the only one, so maybe next time a line that gives a little bit of a clue as to context may not be a bad idea."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:20 AM on August 29 [6 favorites]


escape from the potato planet: I've noticed that a couple of MeFites have adopted this convention – and if it works for people, then I have no big complaint with it. But it seems superfluous to me. On desktop, I can just mouse over the link, and look at the URL in the lower left of the browser window. On mobile, I can just long-press the link to get the same information.

In other words, this functionality is already built into the browser – putting "[New York Times]" in the actual text of the post achieves nothing, except to add an (admittedly minor) bit of extra clutter to the post.


Howdy! I'm one of the folks who does this, and I do so because mobile viewers and people skimming posts (or comments, for that matter) may not always have the time or think to check the link before following. That's asking the reader to take another step before they follow the link, and knowing that a number of news sites have limited views per month, or don't play well with incognito mode, or some sites are blocked at their workplace, and I feel like it's a pretty small thing to do to make it easier on people. I also call out non-webpage content (PDFs, namely), because some people have limited data.

That's my design decision, and not something I'm suggesting others start doing, I'm just sharing my reasoning behind my actions.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:31 AM on August 29 [15 favorites]


Might that not have better served the OP's intent, which (i presume) is to attract as many readers as possible?

Speaking only for myself, I definitely do not want as many readers as possible for my posts, i want the readers who are interested in (and hopefully not fighty about) the topic I have posted about. Maybe this is a bit of the disconnect people are feeling?
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 9:55 AM on August 29 [12 favorites]


Maybe this is a bit of the disconnect people are feeling?

I agree. I also think there might be a disconnect between the utility and fun of posting for the poster and the utility and fun of reading posts for the readers. I’m ok with weirdness/mystery meat because I feel like crafting the posts you want within the rules of the site is part of the fun of belong to Metafilter. But maybe others think it’s more important how you experience the site as a reader?
posted by sallybrown at 10:07 AM on August 29 [2 favorites]


Might that not have better served the OP's intent, which (i presume) is to attract as many readers as possible?

I post infrequently, but when I post, my intent is not to maximize the number of readers, it's to give people a chance to encounter something that I thought was interesting. I mean, the argument that people need to understand that *this particular posting style* does not attract as many readers as possible applies to soooooo many posting styles. I avoid posts that have more than 10 links maybe. Do we need a MeTa telling people who make posts that have over 10 links that some people avoid the posts that they've made, thereby decreasing the total possible number of readers?
posted by 23skidoo at 10:12 AM on August 29 [4 favorites]


Do we need a MeTa telling people who make posts that have over 10 links that some people avoid the posts that they've made, thereby decreasing the total possible number of readers?

We have had that MeTa many times over the years.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:16 AM on August 29 [2 favorites]


True, I meant more do we need another one?
posted by 23skidoo at 10:47 AM on August 29


KEEP METAFILTER WEIRD

or so help me I'll put frogs in your bed
posted by loquacious at 11:10 AM on August 29 [6 favorites]


I also think there might be a disconnect between the utility and fun of posting for the poster and the utility and fun of reading posts for the readers. I’m ok with weirdness/mystery meat because I feel like crafting the posts you want within the rules of the site is part of the fun of belong to Metafilter. But maybe others think it’s more important how you experience the site as a reader?

Maybe I'm guilty of assuming that more people think like me then actually do, but I don't see that as an either-or proposition.

Granted, I haven't made very many posts. But when I do, it's like being the host of a party. I throw the party because it's fun for me, but half the fun is making it the best experience I can for all my guests.

And I'm not out to simply get as much traffic as possible, but I want to make it as easy as possible for the "right" people to get there and see what it's all about. If I'm having a dance party at my house, I'm not going to leave the porch light off and obscure the house numbers. Maybe that will keep unwanted drop-ins away, but it'll also have the unintended effect that not a lot of dance enthusiasts will find their way in.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:11 AM on August 29 [4 favorites]


Speaking only for myself, I definitely do not want as many readers as possible for my posts, i want the readers who are interested in (and hopefully not fighty about) the topic I have posted about. Maybe this is a bit of the disconnect people are feeling?

That's fair. However, even here - and I'm speaking hypothetically when using "you" in this instance - if there were something about the way you were framing posts that was preventing readers who would be interested in the topics you're posting about from knowing that those were the topics you were posting about, would you want to know if that were the case? I know I would, anyway.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:53 AM on August 29 [4 favorites]


I came in to express how much I like mystery meat posts; that it’s nice to escape down a black hole of internetting and learning odd stuffs . . . but instead I read this.

Honestly, the shitty attitudes of the people defending mystery meat in this thread should be all the evidence required that they're bad for the site. What the hell is wrong with you people?

So . . . discouraging. This is why I am never going to post here.
posted by lemon_icing at 12:11 PM on August 29 [16 favorites]


SEO for some, tiny incomprehensible flags for others!
posted by Drastic at 12:11 PM on August 29 [6 favorites]


Honestly, the shitty attitudes of the people defending mystery meat in this thread should be all the evidence required that they're bad for the site. What the hell is wrong with you people?

So . . . discouraging. This is why I am never going to post here.


FWIW, and I could be wrong, but I didn't interpret that as "Defending mystery meat is a shitty thing to do," but that they thought that the particular manner in which it was being defended was shitty. I dunno, maybe the distinction doesn't matter.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:26 PM on August 29 [2 favorites]


The way FPPs are sometimes designed really confused me when I was a longtime lurker, so I just hung out in AskMe. Now, I just skip over things that I can't comprehend and move on. I don't think these should be banned if others find them fun or useful. I get the argument about universal design, but as was mentioned above, this isn't a classroom.

P.S. I still haven't figured out what the acronym FPP means. Anyone care to enlighten me?
posted by jj's.mama at 12:58 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


Front Page Post.
posted by zamboni at 1:01 PM on August 29 [5 favorites]


So if I don’t immediately understand a work and have to spend a few minutes digging deeper to comprehend it, it’s no good? That’s ... not how creativity works. I would never go into a gallery, see a piece that’s weird to me and immediately bash it because it’s a waste of my time. Someone else would likely enjoy it.

There are posting styles and subjects here that grate my very last nerve, but if someone else is getting something out of it, who am I to tear it down in a MeTa? I’m not the audience for every single post out there. Nobody here is.

MeFi isn’t a private park or someone’s house or personal Slack. If you can’t instantly understand the framing of a FPP, come back when you have more time. Or don’t. There’s no final exam.
posted by kimberussell at 2:38 PM on August 29 [16 favorites]


I've frankly been quite shocked at the level of vitriol in this thread coming from the folks taking that position. I've not seen this much raw contempt on MeFi outside of s U.S. politics megathread.

it's funny how perspective colors thing because i felt the same way about people on the other side of the issue. perhaps instead of calling out vitriol that doesn't exist on either side we should write the comments we want to see in the world instead.
posted by JimBennett at 7:27 PM on August 29 [4 favorites]


Dude you called people trash.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 7:49 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]


They called an idea trash. There’s a major difference.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 8:24 PM on August 29 [5 favorites]


I think some wires got crossed. JimBennett was referring to ideas being trash, not people:

the idea that a moment or two of wasted effort is worth sacrificing other peoples self expression is trash, sorry.

"the idea... is trash." You did appear to construe it as people being trash in a comment that followed:

I’m sorry Mr.Bennett if that makes me trash in your eyes.

But that's not how JimBennett has been using it:

i'm sure that's not the intention at all, and calling that attitude "trash" was the wrong choice when i could have been more nuanced.
posted by Jpfed at 8:25 PM on August 29 [5 favorites]


Personally I'd be thrilled if this meme of calling individuals or the ideas or attitudes of other Mefites "trash" would go away. It's really hostile and I don't understand why people like it so much.
posted by biogeo at 8:54 PM on August 29 [9 favorites]


A post like the one in question is all but inscrutable to someone like me with autism. I am in favor of clearer posts so that neurodivergent people on metafilter are better able to be a members of this community.

This is pretty much what I was feeling the need to say here. Not autism, but for my particular neuro-not-typical stuff going on even "normal" posts are a serious effort to figure out WTF they're talking about. I'm not sure it's even possible to convey just how brain-bending it is to puzzle over something only to realize finally, and too late, that it's just one of those cute posts that aren't for me and I should move on.

My reason for metoo-ing is to push back on how many people have characterized it as just "wasting time" or whatever. Something you can easily skip over. After that great thread we had not long ago on neurodivergence et cetera, I think it's worth refreshing the point that peoples experiences of these things are not uniform. Something that seems like no big deal to one is a serious ergonomic fail to another.
posted by traveler_ at 9:23 PM on August 29 [9 favorites]


Honestly, if we're wondering why this meta got instantly edgier than it might have, I'd offer up the OP cheerily and slightly patronisingly saying "don't worry, you weren't the first person to make this mistake!" as if we all already agreed the FPP poster had Done A Booboo in the first place. Or even quickly jumping back in to tell everyone who disagreed with them that they were just being "really determined to get upset". Both of these, to me, seem odd companions to complaining about people being uncivil!

I personally watched about a minute of one of the links and concluded it wasn't for me. The leap from this to getting mad that my time had been wasted is, as someone else wrote above, so radically different from my own understanding of this site that I don't know how to sensibly interface with it.

Make Materfilter Sensible Again?
posted by ominous_paws at 10:18 PM on August 29 [19 favorites]


I read quickly, type quickly,* and generally don't have any accessibility issues that materially impact my experience online, but idk, I've just gotten used to being mindful of accessibility issues. I hang out in a lot of non-MeFi spaces with people who are neuroatypical and/or have accessibility issues of some sort (physical, medical, financial, etc), so it's normalized to me to try avoiding things that purposely make it harder for other people somehow, and to be aware of things I can do to make life a little easier for other people around me.

Like, ok. Take the supposed superfluousness of adding a brief mention of (The New York Times)** or other publication after a link. It doesn't hurt me any to take a few extra nanoseconds to mention the source of an external link, I just see it as a common courtesy, similar to filthy light thief's personal reasons. Nobody else has to go out of their way to do the same, but it makes things a little nicer for people around you.

So it's just weird to me to see someone intentionally demonstrate awareness of posting anxiety and content warnings (by parodying them) but then continue writing in a way that drags mental illness into the parody in an ambiguous way that reads more negatively than not. And without anything in the text of the FPP itself to indicate that, anyway, 120+ animators worked on a collaborative re-animation of a cartoon episode that itself is a parody of a certain type of horror genre, I was just wondering, "uh why is this person who is ok with joking about mental illness-related content warnings... "joking" about that...?"

I've enjoyed even more opaque online goofs in my time, but that content warning read to me as gratuitously mean, or at the very least, less than good faith. (Like, the semi-serious later content warning about butts had more clarity than... whatever that first cw was.) And it mainly just reminded me of all the comments I've been reading over the past month or so from MeFites describing experiences with the site that have been challenging and negative beyond mere inconveniences or annoyances. Without that content warning and the parenthesis comment about post drafting, I'd have shrugged and gone, "'k, that was weird, wonder what other people thought in the comments?" and moved on.

(On preview, what traveler_ said about pushing back on the notion that the discussion this particular FPP inspired is just about mere annoyances and inconveniences and differences of opinion re: worthiness of time.)

TL/DR: yeah, discussing the accessibility of this particular FPP's structure wasn't even the main motivation for this MeTa, but it's a related issue that might be good to keep in mind. Nobody has to do anything they don't want to do, but given that we have fellow MeFites who find the site challenging enough already, being a little more mindful can't hurt.

* Can't say I think quickly, though! I probably wrote and deleted ten different versions of this comment on and off throughout the day.
** In my case, though, I'm more likely to be typing (The Guardian), and yes I had to mention it yet again.

posted by rather be jorting at 10:31 PM on August 29 [10 favorites]


Oh yeah, with that said I wasn't the hugest fan of the content warning japes.
posted by ominous_paws at 12:49 AM on August 30


Make Materfilter Sensible Again?

Please don't
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:53 AM on August 30 [3 favorites]


I just skip posts that don't tell me what they're about. I want MetaFilter to filter the meta for me.

If a mystery meat post gets a lot of favorites or comments, though, I might go back to see why people like it. Or hate it.
posted by pracowity at 4:57 AM on August 30 [3 favorites]


Y'all.

I've been around MetaFilter for a long time. And if there's one thing I've learned, it's this:

Once certain MeFites have decided that you're The Enemy, there's nothing you can say to convince them that they've misconstrued you (in either substance or tone), or that they're leaping to unwarranted conclusions about your motives. Anything you say will only be taken as an attempt to rationalize or evade culpability for your terrible sin.

So I'm done defending myself against the ever-growing litany of (frankly ridiculous) charges that have been leveled in this thread. There's no point.

This is, unfortunately, a very familiar pattern on MetaTalk. It seems there's nothing we can discuss on the Gray that won't rapidly dissolve into bitter entrenchment on either side, with ever-escalating accusations of treason being lobbed back and forth. It's the single most unpleasant thing about MetaFilter. It's kind of surreal to see people getting this worked up over differing opinions about moderation of a message board. Not just in this thread – but routinely.

Perhaps I shouldn't be surprised – this kind of shouting-past-each-other is the norm on other social media. It seems to be the nature of online communication. Our mods are great – I'm sure it would be far worse without them, and I feel bad that they have to deal with this [glances upthread] on a regular basis. But maybe there's only so much they can do.

I'm starting to think that this internet thing just isn't a good medium for discussing anything with any emotional charge whatsoever. I feel like I could post a picture of a basket of kittens, and it would turn into an inquisition within a dozen posts. Hunting vigilantly for imagined infractions to call out seems to be part of the culture of MetaFilter, at least for a vocal minority.

I almost became "Guy Who Ragequits After an Acrimonious MetaTalk" this morning, but I'm not going to do that. I get too much out of MetaFilter. I'm just going to walk away from the people who are determined to read malice into every syllable. Frankly, I think that MetaFilter has a dysfunctional place in some members' lives, and that that emotional energy would probably be better spent in therapy. But that's not my problem to solve.

I sincerely hope that you all have a nice day. I'm certainly going to try to. Bye.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:03 AM on August 30 [6 favorites]


I previously posted about the issue of hand pain and links on MetaFilter, which I think is pertinent. This is an issue of accessibility for many people.

I find it disappointing that so many defend disregarding hand pain and neurological issues that affect a number of people here. I don't think there should be a rule against it, but I do think it's unkind.
posted by FencingGal at 7:28 AM on August 30 [3 favorites]


> escape from the potato planet: I feel like I could post a picture of a basket of kittens, and it would turn into an inquisition within a dozen posts. Hunting vigilantly for imagined infractions to call out seems to be part of the culture of MetaFilter, at least for a vocal minority.

A large component of the reaction to a post is the poster's framing of said post. In this case, assuming that a poster who did not adhere to your preferred style had made a mistake, and calling for a change to site policy to encourage your preferred style are two aspects of this post's presentation that encourage disagreement. I hope you have a great weekend as well.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:30 AM on August 30 [17 favorites]


Coming in quite late but I just want to register my agreement. Down with this sort of thing.
posted by thelonius at 8:14 AM on August 30 [2 favorites]


To me, escape from the potato planet framed this in a lighthearted and openminded way. It read to me like someone trying their best not to put someone on blast, but, having seen a recent post that perfectly encapsulates something they’d like to change, wanted to use it as an example.

It reads as intentionally mean, Rock Steady, to reply to their comment, which read again to me like someone trying their best, to blame their framing as being what’s led to majority of the nastiness. I think framing matters but in this case I don’t think it was to blame, and at a certain point way down in the comments when folks are going at it, it really isn’t about the framing.

Maybe there’s context about the OP and how they interact with this site that I don’t have but it’s reading to me like a lot of things are being assumed or read into escape from the potato’s planets’ comments here that didn’t make sense to me, as someone just reading this thread today. But maybe I’m reading it that way because I wish most mystery meat posts would just have a one sentence spoiler under the fold or as the first comment, as a courtesy but not as a mandatory thing.

Just like how I appreciate when people put in brackets the source of what they link to, or whether it has sound, or is NSFW or whatever. It’s a nice thing but if you don’t want to do it no one is making you and maybe less people click on your post but that’s okay, maybe a surprise is worth that. I can think of posts that have been intentionally misleading that I was curious enough to click and was delighted by, though it still is nice to give a nod to whether you’re clicking on content that could be upsetting or gross or loud.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 8:49 AM on August 30 [10 favorites]


Once certain MeFites have decided that you're The Enemy

I feel you're drastically overestimating how badly you're being treated in this MeTa. If people 100% disagree with your opinion that context-free posts should be discouraged, what is the way to do that without anyone feeling like they're The Enemy? People who 100% disagree that there's anything at all wrong with context-free posts should get to express that opinion when someone makes a MeTa which suggests that context-free posts should be discouraged.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:01 AM on August 30 [6 favorites]


> the thorn bushes have roses: It reads as intentionally mean, Rock Steady, to reply to their comment, which read again to me like someone trying their best, to blame their framing as being what’s led to majority of the nastiness.

I certainly was not being intentionally mean and assuming my intentions is exactly what escape from the potato planet is talking about in the comment I was responding to. I was just trying to provide my perspective on the reasons why this post didn't go the way they hoped it would go. I think we are all trying our best.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:08 AM on August 30 [7 favorites]


My apologies, I was trying really hard to describe how your comment read to me without ascribing intent and that clearly failed. I didn't feel like framing was to blame here but I also didn't want to imply that you, the person, are mean for bringing up that it might be — just that it read that way. I really regret that it made you feel that way because of how I phrased it. I agree that we are all trying our best!
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 9:29 AM on August 30 [3 favorites]


Ultimately, we are all just little creatures in the grand scheme of things, trying our best
posted by rather be jorting at 9:52 AM on August 30 [1 favorite]


So EFTPT, you've made a post singling out a particular user, told them they were doing metafilter wrong, returned to the thread to tell those who disagreed with you that they were just determined to be upset, and then after several more posts aggrieved by some incredibly mild pushback, decided anyone who doesn't want what you do is a dysfunctional user of the site and needs therapy? Physician, etc! Please enjoy the break.
posted by ominous_paws at 12:14 PM on August 30 [11 favorites]


Ominous_paws, can you clarify what you mean when you say that EFTPT was "singling out a particular user" for "doing Metafilter wrong" when nearly all of his comments above seem to be bending over backwards to do the opposite:

I don't mean to pick on BiggerJ, but their recent FPP exemplifies one of my MeFi pet peeves....
--
Again – sorry, BiggerJ! You certainly aren't the first person to make this mistake, and I'm sure you're a lovely person. Your post just happened to be the one which inspired me to finally post this long-festering MetaTalk :)


Can you clarify why you get a "it is all this one person's fault" read on that as opposed to "this just happens to be the most recent example of something a lot of people do"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:24 PM on August 30 [5 favorites]


Can you clarify why you think "singling out a particular user" means "it is all this one person's fault"? I just thought ominous_paws meant that only one user was called out by name.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:35 PM on August 30 [3 favorites]


My reason for metoo-ing

I initially parsed this as "met-ooing" and wasted over 1.5 seconds of my life trying to make sense of that THANKS A LOT METAFILTER
posted by dephlogisticated at 1:21 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


Can you clarify why you think "singling out a particular user" means "it is all this one person's fault"? I just thought ominous_paws meant that only one user was called out by name.

The degree of snark with which they addressed escape from the potato planet.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:37 PM on August 30 [3 favorites]


Is this the snarky line in @RockSteady's response?

> I hope you have a great weekend as well

Why choose to read that as snark?

If we assume they are being sincere and they are being snarky, the attack is nullified. However if we assume snark and they are being sincere we've created bad will where it doesn't exist.

It just seems an unnecessarily negative choice to assume someone is acting in bad faith
posted by askmehow at 5:59 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


As a neuro-divergent person I have never made a post on the blue partially because I expect to be incoherent and for other people to not be able to figure out what the heck I am saying, or even able to figure out why I think they might be interested in my special interest.

People have different levels of ability to communicate. I spend much of my life having people squint at me and shake their heads. I therefore am more than willing to be patient with anyone who puzzles me and confuses me. I tend to figure if I don't understand something it is because I am ignorant and don't have the context for what they are saying, but that is on me because other people seem to understand them just fine. Sometimes communication differences are cultural and sometimes they are because our brains work differently. People who communicate differently from me are not comfortable for me but they are also likely to be intriguing and stretch my brain and I need that. Variety is one of the most valuable features of Metafilter. So is the fact that we get variety from people who communicate differently. Just because I may not understand you does not mean you are bad at communicating. It's more likely to mean you are using a communication style that I have not learned to use.

I really, really, really want everyone to have a voice and a safe space to speak even if they are posting about the most boring or obscure subjects on earth, including baseball, Star Wars, celebrities and bidding algorithms, none of which are interesting to me and all of which make me feel out-grouped because I have never been able to adapt myself to be interested in those things and I have a recurring mis-perception that everyone else understands and enjoys those things. But I feel that if I get to tell other people they can't talk about bidding algorithms, or if I get to demand that when they do talk about bidding algorithms they are only allowed to do so without using any mathematical or statistical terms, then they can fairly turn around and tell me I'm not allowed to talk about history, or human behaviour, or if I do, that I may only talk about them in sentences that are no more than five words long, and includes at least one mathematical term or a date.

I believe that it's wrong to try and censor people (except hate speech) because ethically it is only fair to censor them if you agree to be censored by them.

I feel uncomfortable when anyone except a mod comes up with a question that begins "Should we allow..." because it strikes me as out grouping and what people do when they are making a power play to control what is allowed. I seldom see people (in any context, not in the me-fi context) suggesting that more people and more ideas and more styles ought to be allowed. I am much more likely to see them trying to restrict other people's input to meet the speaker's needs.

I do think it is fair to make suggestions that we add things to our posts to make them more comprehensible - such as categories so that if the post begins with Sports: Baseball: you can avoid them. I suspect that the OP was really trying to make a suggestion along that line, but due to the wobbly nature of communication whatever they were trying to say came out sounding like "Let's forbid all posts that don't have a subject tag!" or even worse, came out sounding like, "Let's forbid all posts from people who don't communicate like me!" I am all for anything that makes the site able to include more content, and makes the site more easily navigable.

I also suspect that BiggerJ is someone who easily clicks past things that don't grab their interest and is used to communicating with people who would not have found their post to be obscure, and that they have probably been made to feel very bad. For what it's worth I did not find their FPP to be difficult to figure out. They were posting about something that was not one of my special interests so I didn't stop to check it out. I only check out about one in ten posts, and then seldom check out the links, so I think their communication style works for me as I got the data I needed at glance.

There seems to be a significant difference in what different people can handle, depending on the device they are using. I have discovered that in some (non-mefi) groups writing in sentences or chatting is now considered anti-social because many people are using a device that requires them to scroll if anything is more than five words long, or because they have notifications set to go off whenever anything new is posted, and can no longer ignore anything by simply letting it scroll on and up or clicking past it, what with their device making a ping or a vibrate or whatever it does, so they have to leap up and check and see if it is an incoming nuclear warhead alert, an amber alert, a cute cat meme, or just a random stranger on the internet asking Wuzzup? People will get very angry in some places if you wake them up because a child needs help to prevent their murder, or if they get a message and there is neither a child in danger or a cat picture. It is very hard to make allowances for people who differ from you in their usage because our devices fill such critical needs for us. Some of us need them for stimulation and are hovering anxiously waiting for some human contact, others of us can't deal with any more stress and only have their phone on so they won't miss the nuclear missile alert. Those needs are mutually exclusive. I don't have any suggestions how to meet those needs without hurting anyone but I do believe they are valid needs.
posted by Jane the Brown at 6:01 PM on August 30 [13 favorites]


I believe that it's wrong to try and censor people (except hate speech) because ethically it is only fair to censor them if you agree to be censored by them.

I feel uncomfortable when anyone except a mod comes up with a question that begins "Should we allow..."


This question did not begin with "Should we allow," and nobody called for censorship.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:51 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]


askmehow, it’s not Rock Steady’s response that was snarky and it wasn’t what Empress C was addressing. It was ominous_paws’ (which to me went past snarky into, well, pretty outright hostile.)
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 7:05 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]


huh, I've found escape from the potato planet's comments quite rude and hostile, personally. (Specifically, telling people that they're just looking for something to be angry about, and telling people that they need therapy.) ominous_paws comment reads as straightforward criticism to me. I'm going to bounce out of this thread now.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:16 PM on August 30 [9 favorites]


Frankly, I think that MetaFilter has a dysfunctional place in some members' lives, and that that emotional energy would probably be better spent in therapy.

Man, this is such a poor thing to say, and it really takes a singular level of conceit to say it in the most histrionic and belittling post in the entire thread.

You should not be making posts about perceived poor framing if you are unable to face up to criticisms of your own perceived poor framing.
posted by Panthalassa at 8:09 PM on August 30 [17 favorites]



This question did not begin with "Should we allow," and nobody called for censorship.

posted by The Underpants Monster

I'm sorry. I wasn't precise and I see that I wasn't clear either. "Should we allow..." was intended as a paraphrase of escape from the potato planet's question, "Might I even suggest that they should be discouraged as a matter of official site policy?"

Escape from definitely did not use the exact phrase "Should we allow..." and my paraphrase is arguably not an exact representation of that question.
posted by Jane the Brown at 8:25 PM on August 30 [7 favorites]


Well, to my mind "discourage" and "not allow" are two entirely different concepts, and it would never have occurred to me to use one to paraphrase the other. Unless I wanted to wildly exaggerate, and even then I probably wouldn't go quite that far.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:54 PM on August 30 [5 favorites]


If we lose the mystery meat posts, I'm going to be forced to leave this website and only read memepool.

(*opens tab, types, closes tab*)

*sigh*

I guess I'll stay either way.
posted by gwint at 10:26 PM on August 30 [3 favorites]


E_C, no matter how much and how floridly Potato Planet wants to qualify it, this post picks out the work of a single user, whilst, yes, not blaming them for the entirety. My intended point was to suggest that this and the other things I pointed out - up to and including stating that certain other users should get off the site and into therapy instead - were a bad look along them incredulously stating just how mean everyone had gotten as if they'd had no part in it.

I believe my criticism was quite direct and not snark, but these definitions are, I suppose, loose. If your question was genuine and not just a paraphrase of "I think you are being a jerk", well, there's your answer.
posted by ominous_paws at 3:05 AM on August 31 [3 favorites]


My questions were indeed genuine; throughout this whole thread I've been honestly surprised at the great differences in the way we're all interpreting the same data set.

But it's also serving as a reminder that we are all very different and unique individuals, and what is clear as day to one person might be opaque to another. Which perhaps (EC said, in hopes of bringing this all within shouting distance of the original topic) could serve as a thing to keep in mind when we're all making FPP's; if we're posting about something we want to share, and we hope that some new fans are introduced to the thing we're talking about, we may want to consider whether the way we're talking about it would ensure that others know what the post is talking about well enough to find their way in. We still may fall short, of course, but it may be worth taking a moment or two to consider anyway.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:45 AM on August 31 [3 favorites]


this post picks out the work of a single user, whilst, yes, not blaming them for the entirety.

One of the unfortunate things with posting style metas is there is no way to bring it up without it being open to criticism. If a meta gives a single example people say you are singling out a post and the OP can feel attacked (especially a problem for first time posters). If you give no examples to prevent singling out a post the discussion gets derailed with calls for examples/denial an issue happens. If you attempt to prevent the single out by linking to several posts there is an argument that Foo posts over Bar time isn't often enough to be a problem and discussion that the linked posts aren't similar enough and the OPs still can feel they are being called out.
posted by Mitheral at 7:20 AM on August 31 [11 favorites]


TL;DR

I will probably un-hack the keyboard macro script I use to turn URLs into links (leave in the YouTube/Amazon/Wikipedia bits) for the benefit of mobile users. Almost zero effort there.
posted by zengargoyle at 7:58 AM on August 31 [2 favorites]


Honestly, it’s embarassing how very seemingly unwilling people are to give others the benefit of the doubt here while also demanding their own posts get read in a rosy light.
posted by Drumhellz at 11:13 AM on August 31 [8 favorites]


Giving the benefit of the doubt and presuming good faith are skills. They aren't necessarily natural for online discussion, but they get easier with practice. They're harder to practice without assistance from others, and easier to learn when modeled well by others.
posted by biogeo at 3:53 PM on August 31 [5 favorites]


Metafilter is not weird and has never been, so there's no "keeping it" weird. Unless by weird you all mean, "wealthy, educated white people at work posting links highlighting quirky artists and maker projects." This place is not weird. Playing a ukelele or knowing how to solder is not a pass into weird-ville. The truly weird are not welcome here.
posted by Feminazgul at 12:19 PM on September 1 [12 favorites]


« Older Afternoon Coffee - Let's Talk   |   Person of color only thread #3 Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments